Introduction to PERMA

Are you finding work less exciting than it used to be? Do you find yourself thinking about work-life balance and whether all the hard work is getting you anywhere? Then it’s worth investing a little time thinking through exactly what motivates you and whether you can change the way you work to better suit you.

Martin Seligman, the “father” of Positive Psychology, laid out his PERMA model for motivation and well-being in his 2011 book “Flourish”. There are many such models, but PERMA stands out as being exceptionally well backed up by extensive research as well as being extremely practical and easy to use to business and indeed everyday life.

The model is used primarily to assess a concept called “Well Being.” At first read this might sound a little vague and distinctly touchy-feely. In fact, the PERMA model has been created with reference to a mountain of research and both Countries (through the concept of Gross National Happiness) and large Corporates are increasingly taking the idea and the model extremely seriously. Here, we apply PERMA to the analysis of an individual’s Well Being in relation to their business life.

If you run your own business, or are a Professional or a Senior Executive, it is not unrealistic to assume that you have considerable choice over the shape of your business life and thus your Well Being should be extremely high. However, more often than not this is simply not the case. PERMA allows you to review your current Work Life and to prompt thinking in areas where you feel you may benefit from change.

Any such model is, of course, best used in conjunction with an experienced Coach, but this has been designed to be used independently by any individual. I would recommend spending 45 minutes or so with a pen and paper away from email and with the mobile turned off to make the best use of the model. Read through each of the five categories (Please see “PERMA Framework”) and then start jotting your thoughts down in the order they occur to you rather than restricting your thinking to order show here. Pick the most important Category first and jot down all of your thoughts down on a Blank piece of paper.

Please consider what you actually spend your time doing on a day-to-day basis, as well as what you want to do. Pay particular attention to those things which you plan on doing next week when you’re “back on top of things”. State facts, raise questions. Try to think things through not just from your perspective, but also from that of your Employees, Customers and even your Family. Taking different “positions” to look at your business (or work life) is a really powerful technique to shine a light on potential blind spots.

Once you have exhausted your first Category, rule off and go on to the next most important one and so on until you have covered all five. The order alone will be revealing, let alone the detail.

You should feel free to develop themes relevant under each heading, but not explicitly referred to here. Please note, that there are no “right” answers. The purpose of the questions is to ignite your awareness and give you the language to help think further and clarify your ability to shape your own work life.

Please note that if you are working in a corporate environment, that I would add an F for Fairness to the PERMA acronym. Fairness (including Justice and Personal Influence) are not generally prime drivers of Well Being, but the perceived lack of Fairness can swamp all the other factors very quickly.


Executive Coaching will improve the value of your business and will make work more rewarding. These days, most top performers in business work with a coach.

If you would like to invest in yourself and the value of your business then call me on 07730 700258 to arrange a free introductory Coaching session.


Please note that PERMA is freely available to all via along with a wealth of excellent resources.